Six Dos and Don’ts for Successful E-mail Subject Lines

May 23, 2012    By Vincent Gragnani ()

The days of e-mail as a novel form of communication are long gone. There was a time when receiving an e-mail was exciting. Today, sorting through e-mails can be a chore.

Your dental e-marketing is more challenging today than it would have been in the early days of e-mail. If you send a dental eNewsletter, you are competing for your readers’ attention against a tide of other communications flooding their computer inboxes.

For recipients to read your e-mail, it is important that you craft a good subject line. It could determine whether your content is read or summarily sent to the trash.

First, here are three ways to avoid a subject line that makes your e-mail look like spam:

  1. You want your recipients to open your dental eNewsletter when they receive it, but avoid overusing “urgent” or “act now.” If every issue is “urgent,” the word loses its meaning. If you are offering a deal on a dental product or treatment that ends on a certain date, be specific and say “offer ends on [date].” Remember: A good eNewsletter should be more about informing your patients or referral sources and less about offering deals and offers. 
  2. Avoid using the word “free,” TEXT IN ALL CAPS, or repeating punctuation (????) or dollar signs ($$$$). One of these used alone may not send your e-mail to the spam folder, but over time, these could raise some red flags. More importantly, they will prompt people to delete the e-mail before reading it. It is best to avoid them.
  3. To further weed out problems with subject lines, use a spam checker. Many eNewsletter service providers have a feature that tells you how likely your subject line is to become caught in spam filters. If you use Constant Contact, using the spam checker is simple: Under “my e-mails,” click the pencil icon next to the e-mail whose subject line you want to check. Clicking “spam check” will tell you how strong or weak your subject line is—with tips on how to make it better.

Here are three tips to writing a good subject line.

  1. Be specific. Like a newspaper headline, an e-mail subject line should let the reader know what is inside. “Anytown Pediatric Dentists Weekly eNewsletter” might have your recipients sending your e-mail to the trash. On the other hand, a subject line like “Oral health and school performance” or “Tooth-brushing among 6- to 12-year-olds” is more likely to pique your readers’ interests.  
  2. Use numbers. Subject lines that begin with, for example, “5 tips” or “7 ways,” indicate to readers that the content will be easily digestible. In this age of information overload, your recipients are likely looking for easily digestible content.
  3. Run a split test. To test some of these tips, consider sending your dental eNewsletter to half your recipients with one subject line and the same dental eNewsletter to the other half with a second subject line. See which e-mail performs better, and use that knowledge to craft subject lines in the future.

As you compose your dental eNewsletter, remember that “you’ve got mail,” is not as attractive as it used to be. Spend a few minutes on your subject line before you send each issue. A small amount of attention to your subject lines could determine whether people actually read your content.  

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